Thursday, December 13, 2007

Those Darn Customers

From the "Customers, they are so annoying!" files, Pragmatic Marketing's Tuned In blog comments on Microsoft's response to customers having problems with Outlook 2007:

Yesterday Microsoft released an update to Outlook 2007 to help speed up the downloading of messages and reduce the annoying and highly criticized freezing associated with moving or deleting messages. Microsoft indicated that the problem stemmed from RSS feeds, email, and calendar files all being stored in the same .PST file which as one might imagine could grow in size rather quickly depending on the user. The problem lies not with the software, but how users are using the software. Jessica Arnold Outlooks Program Manager told ComputerWorld "Outlook wasn't designed to be a file dump, it was meant to be a communications tool...There is that fine line, but we don't necessarily want to optimize the software for people that store their e-mail in the same .PST file for ten years."

Except that, um, that's how customers actually use the software. Silly customers!

It's not unusual to find that customers are using your products in ways you didn't anticipate (and didn't design for). You can only predict so much while you're developing the product, especially when you are working with new technologies that lead to new user habits.

But once you find out what people are actually doing, the right response is to make your product meet those needs (or perhaps spin off a companion product that addresses the new needs and works nicely with the current product). The right response is almost never to complain that the customers are doing things wrong.

Then again, this is the same company that's been loading up its office suite with "helpful" features that almost everyone I know turns off as soon as they install it. Bad customers! No auto-formatted numbered lists for you!

1 comment:

Mary said...

And wouldn't be great if those "helpful" features would stay turned off? *sigh*